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Lawsuit filed against Detroit and former officer after criminal assault and misconduct charges

Posted at 6:14 PM, Sep 20, 2021

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Prosecutors call it a case of police misconduct and assault and battery, involving a former Detroit police officer. The violent encounter is now also at the center of a legal battle against the city.

The attorney representing the man punched by a former officer, says it’s crucial for the public to see this video in the name of accountability. It begins with the former officer asking a citizen “Do you need help?” The citizen responds “Don’t worry about it. I’m good.”

Following that exchange at the corner of 7 Mile Rd. and Van Dyke, an officer is heard insulting the clothing the man is wearing. “You’re wearing a weird $&@ coat,” he says. From there, it gets worse. You can see former officer Anthony Smith tell his partner to hold his things, hinting at a confrontation about to unfold.

“Hold this. Hold this,” says Smith. The man replies “You’re a police officer.” The officer tells him “Shoot your shot.” Seconds later, the man who removed his shirt to prove he’s not armed, is suddenly struck. After punching the citizen, Smith and others decide to make an arrest for resisting and obstructing.

“You’re going to get tased. Relax. Relax,” officers tell the man. He responds “I ain’t did nothing. He just punched me. I’m not fitting to hit you. I didn’t do nothing.” We’ve learned Smith has since resigned from the force and will appear in court on November 12 for a preliminary exam. Police say other officers were also suspended.

While this happened back in December of 2018, attorney Dionne Webster-Cox says she’s filed a lawsuit because her client suffered a false arrest, false imprisonment, emotional distress, assault and battery, and gross negligence.

“He was already on probation. My client ended up having to spend 2 weeks in jail and then because of violating his probation, he had to spend 90 days in the psych ward for just walking down the street and getting hit by an officer,” says Webster-Cox.

She adds he’s suffered from mental health issues made worse by the altercation. “He’s not the same person he was walking up that day, and it’s hard for him to sleep. When he goes up to that gas station, in that area he sees one of the officers and they tease him about it,” she says.

In response, an attorney for Smith tells us: “Under Michigan law, an assault occurs when an individual does an act that would cause a reasonable person to fear or apprehend an immediate battery. The facts of this case will paint a much better picture than any statement Mr. Smith or I could make today. We very much look forward to defending this matter in a court of law and will have no further comment at this time.”

The Detroit Police Department issued the following statement to 7 Action News: “Anthony Smith resigned from the Detroit Police Department in 2019 and was criminally charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, multiple officers were disciplined following the incident in 2018. All complaints against officers are investigated thoroughly.”